How should I add a little bit of weight while still feeding a ration balancer? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 5 Old 10-20-2011, 03:42 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: southwest Michigan
Posts: 304
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How should I add a little bit of weight while still feeding a ration balancer?

The new BO is concerned about my horse's weight. The weather today is absolutely crummy, in the 40s and rainy. He was out with the other three horses in the pasture and he was shivering but the rest were not. The BO put him in the dirt paddock by himself so he could go into the shelter there if he wanted, and gave him LOTS of hay to keep him busy. I'm going to go to TSC tonight after work and pick up a lightweight blanket to keep him dry on days like today. (When it actually gets cold and snowy he has a nice heavyweight winter blanket.)

When the BO called me today about his shivering and to tell me that she put him in the paddock so he could get out of the rain, she recommended (again) that I put him on a senior feed. She wants to give him like 6lbs a day but that just sounds like waaay too much grain to me. I have him on a ration balancer made by Buckeye Nutrition, it's called Gro 'N Win. I said I would check with Buckeye to see what they recommend adding to a horse's diet along with the Gro 'N Win to get a horse to gain some weight. I don't want to add lots, maybe 100lbs. at most, because I don't think he needs a whole lot. He is a 21yo appendix QH and looks to some people like he is underweight because he needs more topline (which is on my list of things to work on with more riding). Adding too much weight will just cause foot problems and maybe back problems too. Also, he's long in the back, so I don't want to turn him into a hammock!

The Buckeye site says if additional calories are needed to add another of their products called Ultimate Finish. Here's the info on that:
Supplements & Treats - BUCKEYE® Nutrition

That looks to me like nothing more than a fancy-pants weight builder supplement. If I wanted to use that product, I'd have to make the 30 minute drive to the closest feed store that carries Buckeye products, assuming that store even has it in stock. Since I have to go to TSC for the sheet anyway I looked to see if they has something similar, and they do. Two things actually. They have their DuMOR brand weight builder supplement, and then they also have this product by Farnam:
Farnam - Your partner in horse care

The Ultimate Finish is 25% fat, while Farnam's Weight Builder is 40%. The calories in Ultimate Finish are from flax seed, rice bran, and soybeans, while the Weight Builder just says flax seed. Either way, I don't have the same concerns about bio-availability of ingredients as I would with a joint supplement, so I don't feel that it's necessary to make the 30 minute drive to the feed store.

Next question... Here's the label from Weight Builder. I'm not sure how many scoops I should aim to feed, one or two? (I would of course start with a small amount and work up.)

Third and final question... I'm sure that the weight builder is designed to be a temporary thing. Once he puts on a little weight, what do you think I should do to keep him that way? Beet pulp? Whole oats? Increase the ration balancer a smidge? Wait and see what happens if he actually gets the proper amount of Gro 'N Win year-round (because I have big doubts whether the previous BO was feeding enough of it in the summer)?

For anyone not familiar with ration balancers, here's a good summary:
Ration Balancer Benefits
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post #2 of 5 Old 10-20-2011, 05:02 PM
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Lancaster, PA
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I assume he is getting about 1 lb per day of the ration balancer?

If you only need to add a little weight in the winter id just use a fat supplement. I dont like weight builder just because i dont think you can feed enough of it to get results while still remaining cost effective. If you like buckeye you can certainly use ultimate finish, but if you have a feed store closer that carries other brands it should be easy to find a fat supplement. Look for a pelleted rice bran or flax based fat supplement. THese are usually used at about a pound per day. If you need more than that to get the results you want, i would recommend switching away from the ration balancer and on to a higher fat feed.

Hope that helps some.
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post #3 of 5 Old 10-20-2011, 05:14 PM
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Higgins, TX. YeeHaw!!
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The best thing you can do for a horse to help them maintain their own body heat in the winter is to make sure that they have constant access to hay. The digestion process produces heat and helps them to stay warm.

As for building muscle and gaining weight, I am a huge believer in using alfalfa. I prefer alfalfa hay but I know that can be hard to find in some areas. Instead of going with the senior feed, I would be tempted to start with some alfalfa pellets. No grains, no sugars or starches, just processed hay that's easy to feed.

Do you have a picture of your guy? Maybe if we see where he's lacking, appearance-wise, and can get a good look at his total condition, there may be more folks that can offer suggestions.

Always remember that feeling of looking at a big, open country over the ears of a good horse, seeing a new trail unwind ahead of you, and that ever-spectacular view from the top of the ridge!!! Follow my training blog:
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post #4 of 5 Old 10-20-2011, 06:00 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: southwest Michigan
Posts: 304
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The most recent pictures I have of him are from two weekends ago when I moved him. They are not straight-on side shots, nor is he always standing on level ground, but they will at least give you a general idea of him.

He's always been a "Slim Goodbody" type but as one of my friends said, if he ate some extra donuts right now that wouldn't hurt.

Some other additional info that I didn't specify before but probably should have:

He is 15.3HH and I would estimate his weight at 1000-1100lbs. Now that we are at a place where we have access to lots of trails without having to ride on the side of the road to get there, it is my hope and goal to ride more often, so hopefully in time that will help his topline.

I don't want to add more than 100lbs at most, because I don't want to cause foot and/or back problems.

All the horses are still on pasture, but the BO also starts feeding hay this time of year. I'm going to guess at least half a bale a day, and it's a grass/alfalfa mix though I don't know the percentage.

We're in the southwestern part of Michigan. Temps here are usually in the 40s or 50s in the fall and we can have some pretty soggy days (like today!). By sometime in November temps have dipped into the 30s. Sometimes we have a white Thanksgiving, and usually we have a white Christmas. In January and February it can get quite cold here, which is why I already own a heavyweight winter turnout blanket for him.

He gets 1.25lbs. of the Gro 'N Win per day (plus pasture and/or hay), plus a scoop each of Acti-Flex Senior, MSM, and BioFlax 20.
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post #5 of 5 Old 10-20-2011, 06:18 PM
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Higgins, TX. YeeHaw!!
Posts: 22,258
• Horses: 24
Well, he's a lean horse, but by no means skinny. He has a very TB type build to him. Truthfully, his weight looks good to me. Like you said, he could use a bit of muscle along his topline, but feeding him more fat won't help that. You can't see any of his ribs, not even shadows, his hips and shoulders are well rounded, he has good muscle mass, and his coat looks healthy.

He doesn't appear to have a very thick winter coat growing in yet, and I would guess he likely has thin TB skin, which would make him more vulnerable to the cold and wet. I really don't think he needs any more weight, he may just be one of those horses that needs a little extra help to stay warm in the winter.

Does the hay the BO feeds last the horses until the next feeding or is it gone before they go out to feed again? If not, you might think about trying to make arrangements so that he has access to hay at all times. Also, make sure that he has an area he can go to get out of the rain and the wind. Beyond that, he may need blankets if that isn't enough to keep him from shivering.

Always remember that feeling of looking at a big, open country over the ears of a good horse, seeing a new trail unwind ahead of you, and that ever-spectacular view from the top of the ridge!!! Follow my training blog:
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